Hello again from your local VICE "how to make everything less boring" correspondents, Amy Rose and Rachel! Amy Rose just made that title up for us, but Rachel thinks it's apt: Together and apart, we've covered ways to have a better time with Zoom calls, distanced hangouts, spending time with a crush or partner when you're mostly stuck inside, and Pride during a pandemic.
Now, we're providing you the thrills and chills that are a part of any actually good Halloween, even when a pandemic means you can't pass out candy to endless child Black Panthers and Elsas-from-Frozen, nor french a stranger dressed like a hot dog after too much Witch's Brew.
You can still get scared (in the fun way) and eat too much sugar (in the even-more-fun way). Here are some sinister thoughts for you about supporting local candy stores, painting a cute ghost on your taters, making Jennifer's Body cocktails, and otherwise having a... frightfully good evening... (Amy Rose shines a flashlight under Rachel's chin)
1. Choose a theme and decorate your space. Rachel is personally really into “tasteful bats” right now, while one of her friends is just quietly adding skulls to his apartment and hoping not to creep out his boyfriend. A few other options: Christian Girl Autumn, haunted mansion, strategically placed googly eyes.
2. Ask people about the most terrifying, inexplicable thing that's ever happened to them. Amy Rose once went to pee in the woods behind the aqueducts with her friend Jenn late one night. With their pants down, they heard rustling, and when Amy Rose swung a flashlight over, it was a person crouched behind a tree in a black surgical cap and black scrubs looking at them with wild eyes. Almost everyone has had an encounter with their own version of the piss doctor, and they're usually really good stories.
3. Reread or rewatch something that scared the shit out of you when you were younger (like a particularly terrifying Are You Afraid of the Dark? episode, or the “How was this written for kids???” Fear Street novel that still freaks you out). Bonus points if you and a friend/roommate/partner trade selections and make an event of it! Can you mail them a weathered Goosebumps paperback and, in return, receive a link to Evil Dead II? Surely.
4. Convince the friend with the projector to host an outdoor, distanced Halloween movie screening. Or become the friend with the projector.
5. Watch every single Halloween episode of your favorite TV show, like Friends, Buffy, or Bob’s Burgers, all in one go.
6. Get stoned (if you get stoned) and try to get to the bottom of a conspiracy theory or unsolved mystery. This one is sort of macabre, but if not now, when are we going to ferret out the gnarly loose ends of the world's most captivating unsolved crimes and murky conspiracies? Just try to pick ones that feel like "genre" ones—not too-too grisly or tragic. (Unless that's your slightly gruesome thing.)
Rachel watched exactly five minutes of the Netflix Unsolved Mysteries episode about the Berkshires and declared that she was a believer. The Montauk Project scared Amy Rose so much when she learned about it that she cried. (She was stoned.) The Bermuda Triangle… is it really a triangle? We need an update on this, so get back to us, OK?
7. Spend October working your way through all of Twin Peaks. Plan a themed finale “party” (meal, outfit, whatever) for Halloween.
8. Get some body paint, lay down an old sheet, and give your or your partner’s body parts a spooky-silly paint job (think: a jack-o'-lantern ass, cute ghost boobs, etc).
9. Come up with one cocktail, recipe, or meal that feels perfectly Halloween to you—campy, spooky, chocolatey, staged to be totally over the top—and go all-in creating it and photographing it. Don’t forget to give it a name, like “the Megan Fox kissing Amanda Seyfried–tini.” (Watch Jennifer’s Body if you haven’t yet.)
10. Attempt to recreate your favorite Halloween candy from scratch, like the Pinterest blogger you are in an alternate life. (Have the real thing on hand in case it goes awry.)
11. Assemble the horrific charcuterie meathead.
12. Do a Haribo power ranking. There are so many varieties of the internationally acclaimed gummy candy brand Haribo available to us in this life—its website says it offers over 1,000 different products, in over 100 countries. Even aficionados like Amy Rose probably won't live to try all of them. Although she just smiled serenely, if a little wistfully, about the idea of Haribo outlasting her... she is also not going to go down without a fight.
For the sake of both Halloween and our own eternal legacies: It's time to make a Haribo tournament. Yes, of course you have to make a bracket. We just Googled “how many in a bracket” and the answer is 16, so choose your own adventure: Amy Rose would try some personal-to-her newcomers like “sweet mice” (“Hmm…softig”), ginger-lemon gummies, "phantasia" assortment (!!!), and "vulcano fizz," plus some titans of the genre, like your basic assorted Gold-Bears, cherries, cola bottles (we've recently come around on these), snakes, and Smurfs. You can also buy variety packs online—weirdly, eBay seems like they've got that market covered. Taste test, either by yourself or with others in your house. Feel immortal, like a sugared-out Dracula.
13. Or simply spark drama in the group chat by inviting everyone to submit a Halloween candy ranking for discussion and review. Rachel, who “doesn’t really love chocolate” (??) and “gave Halloween candy away as a child” (????) has already been scandalizing her loved ones with with declarations about the superiority of Starburst and will not be taking further questions at this time.
14. Order a mystery Halloween candy package from Economy Candy, a truly killer independent New York institution that needs financial help right now, or a candy store local to you which likely does, too. We’re sure lots of other confectioners are also either offering or willing to offer a surprise-grab-bag sort of service if you ask. If Necco wafers come in it, don't worry—just throw them at whoever is nearby and say, "Here, got your favorite." Trick and treat… sublime...
15. Listen to metal or otherwise heavy music in the shower with your eyes closed. Do this every day if you want—like the candy-related suggestions here, it doesn't get old. Here's Through Silver in Blood, an oozing, gorgeous hell of an album by Neurosis.
16. Fuck a ghost. We couldn't find a WikiHow for this. Maybe you could write it once you find out firsthand?
17. If you’ve always wanted to have a horny Halloween but aren’t comfortable going out in public without pants on, you now have a perfect excuse to do it for a very small (or non-existent) audience. Buy or assemble the “basically naked” costume of your dreams, and take some very hot just-for-you selfies on October 31. Your sexy Clippy costume deserves to see the light of day.
18. Concentrate on Martha Stewart's Halloween costumes and send pictures of your friends to which one you think they are. Put real consideration into this and figure out who the Motha, Ghostly Equestrienne, Pirate, and Sophisticated Spider-Witch in your life are. They need to know. First, pick yourself, because giving away the good ones here is the lifestyle celebrity version of trading a Take 5 bar for a Werther's Original. Go ahead: Be Motha.
19. If you’re attending a Zoom Halloween party (or even if you’re not), put your effort into perfecting an impressive Halloween makeup tutorial instead of putting together an elaborate costume. Put a galaxy on your face, turn yourself into Winifred Sanderson, or finally try the all-over-the-internet-but-still-genuinely-impressive skeleton look.
20. Wear something you think of as costume-y but also happen to really like—a wig, outrageous makeup, fake teeth, wings, a crown—throughout the month of October. Who cares? Nothing matters anymore.
21. Do a deconstructed or reversed version of trick-or-treating. Get snack size plastic bags (sandwich size if you’re feeling generous) and fill them with wrapped fun-size candies.
Tape individual bags to a sidewalk-facing gate, or to the front doors of everyone in your apartment building. Even if contactless trick-or-treating bums you out on a soul level, try to find the hauntingly good tiiiiime in things anyway by remembering: You don't have to wear a non-slutty costume to participate because you don't have to answer the door and be visible to children in order to be nice.
If you think this will weird people out or you would feel like a weirdo doing it, drop candy bags off (along with a note) in your friends' mailboxes. There: trick-or-treating, just in reverse. Like everything else this year, we can do our best to find new ways through. We guess, in part, by exhibiting candy-based endurance, in some situations? Wait, also!! Leave a fake spider in there if you go this route! Hilarious. Happy Halloween, ya creature feature.
Rachel Miller is the author of The Art of Showing Up: How to Be There for Yourself and Your People. Follow her on Twitter.